There has been much backslapping and congratulations of clubs who have recently expressed an interest of going up to play at the next level.
However, I believe that only time will tell just how seriously these clubs are in taking the promotion that really should be considered as a norm anyway.
The disclosure by the SWPL that three of their clubs had given notice to take promotion to the next step of non league football had hundreds of fans across Cornwall and Devon reacting as if this trio had declared to rid the world of poverty!
“Congratulated”, “applauded”, “highly praised”, and “commended” were just some of the postings, comments, and messages on many of the forums and websites across the region. But hang on : Am I missing something?
Unquestionably, this is why the league was set up in the first place. Surely, this is why these teams joined, won and fought their way into this standard of football to go on and gain promotions?
So why all the fuss and hysteria?
Well, some of it comes from the fact that after nearly 5 years since the SWPL was formed, this is the first time a club(s) has signified an intention to move on up. Furthermore, their fans, delighted about their teams decision, seemed to almost incite each other into an over the top reaction.
So I understand a little about all the hype and ingratiating feedback that followed this news. However, are these fans fully aware of just what a club’s request to “move up” the non-league pyramid means at this stage? And just how much water does it hold? Well, not much if the truth is told!
Example, there is a team in North Devon that applies every year to join the SWPL. Every year they decide to turn it down for one reason or another.
A team who already played in Step 5 and were extremely successful, applied on numerous occasions to go to Step 4. Although they could have done by their standing in their league at the end of many a season, they too decided against it.
And who could forget about the chorus of disapproval last season when Budleigh pulled in the drawbridge at the last hour, after giving intention to the league to take promotion at this time last year.
So for me it’s a little premature to be rejoicing and giving plaudits out at this moment. Sure it’s a fantastic start, and the league (SWPL) must have breathed a huge sigh of relief upon receiving these applications.
Though one of the most talented and gifted League Secretaries in the country knows, an application or notice to quit the league, delivered through his letter box at Christmas time, doesn’t automatically mean it’s a forgone conclusion they will be playing Step 5 football next season!
For what’s it worth, I’ll stick my neck on the line and say, all three sides will be playing SWPL next year! Why?
Falmouth is an easy one - I actually feel they have a great chance of finishing as the team to have first shout at promotion. However their opportunity will not be blocked because of lack of ambition, but for the reason that the ground needs far too much doing to it.
Steve Kimberly is one of the League’s most enthusiastic club Chairmen around.
He’s without doubt the type you would want to work under as a manager. Having said that though, I believe this application is nothing more than a PR exercise. “Look at us”, “we are ambitious” sends out all the right signals to everyone (fans, players and in particular sponsors). Steve is very canny; perhaps there is an alternative motive?
Moving to a new ground, selling Bickland Park? What a fantastic opening dialogue to go to the Council with, “we had to turn down promotion because of our ground facilities” before adding “Bickland Park is holding us back from moving forward as a club”. In the meantime, everyone loves the ambition coming out from the club, no matter how superficial it might be.
Plymouth Parkway - Love their ambition. I am in no doubt whatsoever that they want to go forward as a club, and the very best of luck to the powers that be to see that happen.
However for this season’s attempt they will fall way short and only if the top three, Bodmin, Buckland and Falmouth are all deducted many points for misdemeanours, could Parkway finish in promotion place.
Buckland - I was not surprised at all about this statement from Buckland, which might come as a surprise to some, knowing my past history with them! What I would say though is that this application is both delicate and problematic for the club.
Delicate, in that I do believe there is a strong underlying belief in the club that Step 5 IS NOT in the club’s best interests.
The old brigade, who still hold sway at the moment, feel it’s not the way forward. The younger blood, which led me to believe promotion would happen last season, want to push on.
Who will win? All bets are off!
Buckland WILL finish in a position to take up application, that’s for sure. However the supporters will have to wait at least another year, and maybe beyond before Step 5 is a reality. The power is with the guys that have taken the club to the great heights it enjoys now.
The application was no more than just a sweetener to the younger forward-looking guy’s at the club. It looks and sounds impressive with the statement, but let’s see if they put their ambition where their social club/scene is?
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